On starting too many books

Hey, readers!

I’ve gotten myself into a reading pickle: I’m in the middle of too many books! I tend to do my best reading when I have two books going at the same time, usually one print (either Kindle or paper) and one audio. Not only do I like to have a variety of stories in my mind, and mix of formats to choose from depending on what I have to do in a give day. But I’ve also found that if I start any more than two books during a given period, I get overwhelmed and have a hard time deciding what to read at any giving moment. It often ends with my DNFing books I’m actually enjoying because I can’t make the time for them. So here I am now in the middle of four books, and I’m nervous about my ability to finish them all! I may actually go totally against my natural instincts and make a reading schedule for myself to ensure I actually finish them. Wish me luck!

This week in books.

This week I read…

  • Cinder by Melissa Meyer. This Cinderella retelling follows Cinder, a cyborg living in New Beijing where her status as not fully human means she’s considered less-than. Over the course of the novel, however, she (of course!) discovers that maybe her differences make her special…not to mention that a prince might in fact be romantically interested in her. I did really really enjoy this book both as a work of YA sci-fi and as a fairytale reimagining. The genre mash-ups make it an extremely inventive and playful read, and the cliffhanger ending all but ensures that I’ll continue on with the series. I will say that the vague pan-Asian setting and somewhat ambiguous discussions of race in the novel made me uncomfortable, and I sometimes felt that Meyer was invoking cultures that aren’t her own to appeal to readers idea of “the exotic.” I’ve read some reviews that bring up this issue as well, and it’s something that gives me pause in recommending it widely. If you’ve read this series, I’d love to know that you think!  Amazon | Bookshop

Now I’m reading…

  • The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra. I’m almost done with this collection of interconnected stories and still really enjoying it. Amazon | Bookshop

  • The Women of Troy by Pat Barker. I didn’t love Barker’s The Silence of the Girls (the precursor to this novel) but I heard this one was better and I just can’t resist a myth retelling. So far I’m underwhelmed, but it’s the one audiobook* I have going right now so I’ll probably continue for now. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Mrs. March by Virginia Feito. I learned about this novel from a Vox review, which described it as reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith. I love an “unlikeable” and unreliable character at the heart of a domestic suspense story, and I’m very into this one so far. Amazon | Bookshop

  • Matrix by Lauren Groff. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this new historical fiction from Lauren Groff, whose writing I absolutely love. I’m only about 50 pages in, but I’m really loving her story of Marie de France. Amazon | Bookshop

*You can get two LIBRO.FM audiobooks for the price of one with my link or by using code FICTIONMATTERS.

Links I love.

Susanna Clarke won the Women’s Prize for Fiction for her wonderful novel Piranesi. Vox is hosting a Piranesi book club this month and you can participate by RSVPing for a live Q&A with Clarke.

20 books to read if you love Sally Rooney.

Vulture’s best romance novels of 2021 (so far).

I loved Michaela Coel’s show I May Destroy You, and I enjoyed perusing her 10 favorite books.

Books are a great way to help young people understand history. Here are some good books for helping kids learn about and understand September 11th.

End notes.

Watching: What We Do in the Shadows is as hilarious as ever. I’m also enjoying Only Murders in the Building on Hulu.

Listening: I’m following the Elizabeth Holmes’ trial through the John Carreyrou podcast Bad Blood: The Final Chapter.

Making: A lot of Sweetgreen orders 😬

Loving: Jeni’s High Five Candy Bar ice cream. I can’t get enough.


Readers, I hope you’re currently reading just the right number of books for you. For questions, comments, or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing fictionmattersbooks@gmail.com or responding directly to this newsletter. I love hearing from you!

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Happy reading!

Sara